The CROWN Act: California Bill Aims to Protect Black Folks from Hair Discrimination

California lawmakers have passed a bill banning  discrimination against people who wear natural hairstyles such as braids

California could become the first state to protect Black employees and students from hair-based discrimination, thanks to recently proposed legislation.

The CROWN Act, which seeks to banish policies that punish Black folks for their hairstyles, got the green light in the state Senate in April and could be voted on in the state Assembly as early as this week, the Los Angeles Times reported.

If passed, the bill would provide protections to those at school or work by barring the enforcement of grooming policies that unfairly impact African-Americans and other people of color.

Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), who proposed the legislation, said the bill’s acronym perfectly reflects its intent: “Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural hair.”

“The history of our nation is riddled with laws and societal norms that equate ‘blackness,’ and the associated physical traits, for example, dark skin, kinky and curly hair to a badge of inferiority, sometimes subject to separate and unequal treatment,” Mitchell wrote.

The bill comes at a time when Black people have faced pressure, and even punishments, over natural hairstyles including dreadlocks, twists, braids, and afros. Today’s standards of professionalism are still very much linked to Eurocentric beauty and norms, and continue to fuel the racist belief that Black hair is inferior or flat-out improper.

“Workplace dress code and grooming policies that prohibit natural hair … have a disparate impact on Black individuals, as these policies are more likely to deter Black applicants and burden or punish Black employees than any other group,” Mitchell added. “Therefore, hair discrimination targeting hairstyles associated with race is racial discrimination.”

In 2018, Alabama woman Chastity Jones took her case to the Supreme Court after she claims a company rescinded her job offer after she refused to cut her dreads. A varsity high school wrestler also made headlines earlier this year when he was faced with the heartbreaking decision to either cut his locs or forfeit a championship match; he chose the match.






















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